Maine Hockey Journal

Schedule not only an issue for the fans

The number one complaint I hear from Pirates fans is the fact that Portland plays the same teams over and over and over so many times, the schedule actually gets boring to them.

Funny thing is the players feel the same way.

Talking with Pirates’ defenseman Andy Schneider yesterday after practice while working on this week’s Pirates Notebook for the Journal Tribune and I was amazed to hear how the schedule has become very tedious and monotonous playing the same teams over and over.

Those aren’t my words either, but Schneider’s as he begins to understand what the dog days of winter are really about in Portland.

“It was something that I never heard of until I got to the pros,” he said. “The games between 50 and 70 (are the bench mark). It’s like wow were playing so and so especially because it seems like were playing the same teams every other day. It can get to be kind of monotonous and tedious, but you have to take it one game at a time because each game has implications as the season goes on for seeding in the playoffs.”

Pirates Owner and CEO Brian Petrovek as well as the rest of the Pirates staff have to look at this as a sign that things might need to change. Especially, if the fan base has felt this way for sometime and now the players are showing signs of being bored then it might be time for an adjustment to be made to the schedule.

We’re not saying completely revamp the schedule, but as Schneider made mention too and something that I’ve been preaching on my soapbox for years is that the Pirates need to have better management of the schedule. When Portland is on a road trip in Binghamton or Albany, why not travel to Syracuse or Rochester. Or, how come the Pirates can travel to Toronto and Hamilton two years ago, but not visit them since.

I can understand not traveling to Texas or some of the other Midwest cities, but even with the setup of the AHL now and the geographic location of most of the teams in the Midwest, it would be entirely feasible for the Pirates make a bi-annual trip out to the middle of America.

Unfortunately, it comes down to one thing and one thing only, which is the Pirates don’t want too or won’t spend money on increased travel cost, but they aren’t the only ones in the AHL. That is why it will be up to the American Hockey League President Dave Andrews to work out a scheduling formula that all 29 and eventually 30 teams will agree too.

An easy solution would be an unbalance schedule similar to what is currently in the NHL. Instead of a three-year cycle, it might have to be a four or five year cycle, but at least you know that a team will eventually come to your building. In the Pirates case, why not play every team in the division for a total of 48 games, followed by 20 games in the East Division. Remember, it’s unbalanced so Portland would face Albany and Bridgeport more than Hershey or Wilkes-Barre, which leaves 12 games the Pirates can spilt in the other conference and if they went with a three-year cycle, Portland would have to face five teams from the other conference each season to play them all after three years.

But, you say those numbers don’t add up??

You’re right, because there are two games remaining the Pirates can either use any way they wish too by using them as “rivalry games”, or play another team in one of the other divisions within the AHL.

The really question is would the AHL Board of Governors approve such a plan? They would need 75% approval to see such a plan put into action and based on past history, it’s unlikely that would happen.

Good luck to Dave Andrews on convincing the BoG.

And to Andy Schneider, you only have to play Providence one more time so chin up.

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